No matter how rich or famous you become, life will always be unpredictable. Things will happen in life that you could not perceive or plan for. Things will happen that you have no control over. As such, you need to be flexible and able to go with the flow of life.

I found that people who have majored in English in college tend to be inflexible about the language. They believe that there are set, unwavering laws that govern the way English can be spoken or written.

But the truth is that English, or any language for that matter, is very fluid and flexible. Centuries ago the word “awful” meant to be full of awe, to be inspired. Now it means the complete opposite, to be repulsed, to dread. In the early 20th Century words like “imbecile,” “stupid,” and “moron” were scientific terms used to describe a person’s IQ. Now they are degrading terms used by kids as taunts.

Modern technology has given us texting and tweeting that have spawned new ways of writing and abbreviating. For the uninitiated, texting can seem to be a foreign language. Teachers have seen these new forms of writing migrate into essays and term papers.

Here in Hawaii there is a form of English called “Pidgin English.” It is a Creole language, meaning it is a combination of many languages, English being the most predominant. Hawaii has a history of migrant workers coming together to work in the sugar cane and pineapple fields of Hawaii. Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Portuguese, Hawaiians, and Europeans communicated through the common language of English but added their own words.

For example, there is the Hawaiian word “hana” which means “work.” There is also the Japanese word “hana” which means “nose.” The two have found their places in the Pidgin language. “Pau hana” is Hawaiian for “done working.” “Hana butta” is a combination of the Japanese word for nose and a corruption of the word butter so that hana butta literally means “nose butter,” or “snot.”

Those English majors I wrote about earlier do not think that Pidgin English is “Proper English” or “Standard English.” Such people will always be unhappy and frustrated when English is not spoken or written up to their standards.

Flexibility is a key Emotional Intelligence skill. The ability to adjust one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors to changing situations and conditions is necessary in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world. New technology, new scientific research, new ideas, new ways of doing things – all affect us. We need to be able to change our minds, and our way of thinking, when new evidence suggests that we are mistaken.

To be flexible we must accept change as a part of life. Change requires us to get out of our comfort zones; to do, to think, and to act in ways that we’re not used to. Humans are creatures of habit. There is a sense of comfort and security in having a routine, in having things in the same place every time, in having the same kind of food every day, in not having any surprises.

But change is a part of life. We can accept change and flow with it, riding the wave of change instead of being slammed into the shore by the wave.

More than just accepting change we must be proactive and activity seek out change. Be an agent of change, be the one who makes the change. The old axiom “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t fit into today’s fast-changing world.

Besides accepting change we must overcome our fear of change. There are many fears associated with change:  The fear of embarrassment, the fear of failure, the fear of financial loss, the fear of being criticized, etc. You must constantly challenge your fears and overcome your irrational beliefs. If you don’t overcome your fears you could be missing out on lots of opportunities.

Once you learn to be more flexible, when you learn to go with the flow, you will be less bothered by those things that don’t meet your standards or way of thinking. Such flexibility will allow you to be more at peace and happier. 

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